The History of Paella Pan™ & Espana
Aaron Kirkland was fortunate enough to receive a contract to play Rugby League in the South of France, this was back in 1996. Aaron was living in Perpignan on the border of Spain and was soon consumed by the French and Spanish culture during the eight seasons he was based there. However, after six years he started wondering about life after sport and his return home to NZ.
Aaron was living in a small Village when he got to know Senor Joan Collado who owned a Butcher/Delicatessen. Joan had worked as a Chef all over France in some of the best restaurants. Aaron can still remember the day he walked up to his shop with the idea to take the cuisine back to New Zealand. Aaron was direct and asked if he would teach him in return for help in the shop. So the deal was done and Aaron became the kitchen hand and spent two years with Joan learning his skills.
Only a month after Aaron arrived home he made contact with the French Market “la Cigale” and asked if he could cook Mediterranean food. La Cigale were very enthusiastic, so the journey had begun.
The business had the name Petite Mediterranean in the beginning but was soon changed to Paella Pan as Paella was the main draw card for our new customers. So every year the orders have increased and the workload has grown with a lot of effort doing the markets, festivals, school galas then private functions, corporate events and weddings over the last 10 years.
In 2013 Susana Silva from Barcelona in Spain happened to pass by the French Market and pick up our business card. She wanted to volunteer part time to work with Kiwis to improve her English, Susana’s passion for food has been passed down from 4 generations as her Great – great grandmother owned a busy Spanish Hotel/Restaurant in Sitges (Barcelona) on the beach. Aaron met with her family in Spain and could enjoy as never before with their meals which are huge menu and incredible tasting food.
So currently with Susana’s passion for her countries cuisine and Aarons business already well established they decided to get to work, after 2 years in the kitchen together developing new foods and recipes and pushing their ideas together the business is now moving forward faster now with a wider menu of Traditional Spanish food and we have decided to open another branch of the business “ESPANA” which will take care of the more finer Spanish foods, Tapas, Dessert, Salads on our menus that will take the emphasis away from just our Delicious Paellas.